Maggie Gallagher

David Brooks once famously described college-educated American suburbanites as "Bobos": bourgeois bohemians. But why stop there? Bobos meet Bopos: the new bourgeois pornographers.

Meet, for example, Peter Acworth. He is not just another pornographer. In the middle of the dot-com boom of the 1990s, this son of a British sculptor and an ex-Jesuit priest dropped out of Columbia University's doctoral program in finance after he read a newspaper story about a fireman who'd made nearly a half-million dollars throwing up a porn Web site, something any fool could do. Today he's the founder and head of one of the nation's most successful fetish porn Web sites, and the subject of a glowing profile in Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

I won't advertise the name of his company (what is Google for?), but the porn-niche he occupies has its own set of initials to describe its own "community," according to the Times: BDSM, or bondage, discipline, domination, submission and sadomasochism, (which, if you think about it, should really be the BDDSSM community, but hey, don't let the alphabet tie you down).

I am getting old. Using the word "community" to describe people who share unusual lusts together strikes me as, well, odd. Whatever happened to the guys in funny hats who join lodges named after animals? (Hmmm, don't answer that one.)

Peter Acworth, who used to tie himself up all alone in those lonely years before his worldly success helped him find girlfriends willing to do this for him, launched a bondage site partly for obvious reasons and partly as a shrewd business decision. With bondage, he told the Times, he knew what the customer wanted. If it feels good, market it!

Out in San Francisco, he has acquired a staff of 70 employees, like Pamela O'Tey, the accountant who is also head of her local PTA, or the Harvard alum who helps with marketing. Online porn is big, respectable business now.

His company recently purchased the State Armory and Arsenal, a 200,000-square-foot building in San Francisco's Mission district, a building on the National Register of Historic Places. It's big enough to house both offices and studios. In the basement, with pumps shut off, an underground creek filled the old National Guard shooting range with several feet of water. According to the article: "Acworth was ecstatic. He imagined models waist-deep, with helmets and headlamps, or someone suspended over the waterline in a cage. 'It could be very cinematic,'"Acworth told the reporter.


Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.



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